[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/31/art.gabe.ramirez.halloween.jpg]Gabe Ramirez
CNN Los Angeles photojournalist
The big question at my house in every early October is, “So what do you guys want to be for Halloween?” When my mom asked us this question way back in the late 70s-early 80s, my answer was always a variation of one of many Star Wars characters, Storm Trooper, Darth, Ben Kenobi, Jawa. It’s funny; my 8-year old son (Ben, sans Kenobi) has also been Darth, a Storm Trooper, a Jedi. My little sister was always some kind of medieval character, princess, fairy, troll… well maybe not a troll. One year she was a dragon. My mom made this really cool paper Mache dragonhead and sewed together a dragon body. Does anybody do that anymore?
But my 4-year old daughter Sophie didn’t need to wait until early October to decide what she was going to be. One Saturday in June, as decisive as a McCain strategist, she announced, “I think Belle again, or… maybe Jasmine. I like Ariel and Sleeping Beauty too. I’ll be one of those.” I thought, Hmm, which of those costumes does she already have? Answer: all of the above. Her enablers? My wife and my mom who love to see her dressed up.
My wife and kids really enjoy going to Disneyland, and because we live in Los Angeles, less than an hour north of the Magic Kingdom, we go – often. I too enjoy the park, especially because my kids always have a great time. But Sophie is a Disney addict. If we are in the car and a radio ad mentions Disney, she instantly straightens up and asks, “What did they say? What about Disneyland?” They must put something in the Pirate Punch at the Pirates of the Caribbean because, she like so many others her age, can’t get enough of the Disney princesses. In 2007, Newsweek estimated the Disney princess franchise to be worth $4 billion. I am sure the countries current economic situation has put a dent in that, but if my daughter and her schoolmates are an indicator, Disney will continue its roll.
My wife thinks our daughter’s princess phase is adorable, and I have to admit I agree. My heart melts at the sight of her as Belle dancing to the Little Mermaid soundtrack alone in her room. But I worry about the girlyness (and priceyness) of it all. I want her to be like my wife, a strong, educated woman with an insane work ethic, and not hung up on things like artificial beauty and image. Obviously she will outgrow this phase. I should probably hang on to this time for as long as possible, because when it ends, I am sure I will miss it.
Going into last week, she was as sure as an undecided Ohio voter. Way back on October 7th, while I was in Nashville covering the second Presidential Debate, my son called me and announced he had cast an early ballot, for… the ninja. This was a surprising departure from the Star Wars theme, which had been polling well. By last Saturday, Sophie was leaning Jasmine (my pick). But Ariel (my wife’s pick) and Sleeping Beauty were still in the toss up column. Being the incumbent, Belle was out. I mean this is the year of change, right?
Then last Sunday afternoon, a few hours before our neighborhood Halloween parade, Sophie pulled off an October surprise. She came up with a remarkable tri-partisan plan. She would be Jasmine for the neighborhood parade, Sleeping Beauty (wig and all) for her pre-Kindergarten parade and Ariel on Halloween night. I guess I don’t have to worry about her turning into a shallow princess after-all because it looks like I have a budding, consensus building, politician on my hands.
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